What Would Simone de Beauvoir Say? Bringing Up Bébé by former Wall Street Journal reporter Pamela Druckerman is the latest addition to books that highlight our cultural obsession with motherhood, or the failings of American mothers. Even if you haven’t read the memoir you probably know the gist of the story given the raft of media coverage: after some time spent living in France where she gave birth to two children, Druckerman concludes that French women are superior mothers because they have time for themselves and their children are better behaved compared with her American counterparts.
Plenty of critics have taken aim at Druckerman’s argument but few have spent much time discussing the differences between French (read “extensive and nationalized”) and and American (read “few and individualized”) social supports for mothers and families aside from a quick mention before they move on to tackle other aspects of her narrative.
Surely it’s not so easy to dismiss these massive differences and the social conditions they create for mothers in their respective countries. As a feminist, I want to focus on these structural problems and solutions, not toss them into a “by the way” paragraph. I agree with my fellow GWPenner, Deborah Siegel, who argues here that we still need to demand some form of national childcare and better work-life options.
Work v. Motherhood Again New research in Gender and Society finds that most moms would work even if they didn’t have to. According to Karen Christopher’s findings, mothers said they found more fulfillment in paid work than in parenting, and most women (regardless of class, race/ethnicity, or marital status), said they would work even if they didn’t have to.
Mother-readers, does this ring true to you? Don’t get me wrong: I love my work at the National Women’s Studies Association. At the same time, I don’t want to have to rank-order work over my role as a mother. To me this sounds like an either/or choice that we should refuse.
Feminist Ryan Gosling Okay, this isn’t about motherhood, but Feminist Ryan Gosling falls squarely into the “and Feminism” portion of my roundup. I love Danielle Henderson’s take on “feminist flash cards.” I also love that Danielle is a graduate student in Gender and Women’s Studies. I think you’ll love her work and her sense of humor, too! Check it out and then post a comment here.